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WAC Likely To Keep Auto Bid, As Long As No One Else Leaves

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Back in August, I wrote about how all of the conference realignment out West could cost the Western Athletic Conference its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The conference received some good news today, as the NCAA Convention accepted a proposal to scrap the "core membership" requirement. 

Under this new rule, to hold an auto bid to the tournament, a Division I conference must have seven men's basketball playing members with no continuity of membership requirements. Six of those schools must conduct conference play in five or more other sports.

To recap the WAC's somewhat confusing membership situation, Hawai'i will be leaving for the Mountain West in football and the Big West in most other sports after the 2011-12 academic year, while Fresno State and Nevada will move all of their sports to the MWC at that time. Boise State is already on the way out after this academic year.

That will leave Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, and Utah State. Those five will be joined by current Southland members Texas State and Texas-San Antonio (for all sports including football) and Sun Belt member Denver (non-football member) at the beginning of the 2012-13 campaign. Under the old rules, the conference would have fallen one team short of the six-team core membership requirement, even with expansion. Now, that's won't be an issue. 

Someone else leaving could make things messy again though.